2013 Valedictory Celebration - Alicia C. Bell, Student Speaker

President John Sexton often refers to New York University as a community of communities. Between you and me, I think he must have been inspired by the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

You see, this is the second degree that I’ve received from NYU and it’s allowed me to understand just how unique Steinhardt is. You must know that it’s not everywhere in the world where you can get a degree in Woodwind Studies next to someone studying Occupational Therapy. Nope, that only happens at Steinhardt.

And a community of communities—that’s something we embody here. I’ve already mentioned the immense diversity in our school, but I’d also like to point out that I competed in the All University Games this year and at the Games, people from each degree program in Steinhardt were able to come together for one goal, as a team, win some games and at least place in others. If we’re able to do that on the volleyball court of an NYU gym, we should be able to do that in the world.

You see, we know from history that change only happens through collaboration and we know that it takes all people to create progress. We’ve built what it takes to create comprehensive change. As a student of Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy, I’ve learned some of my best practices through the Educational Theatre Program. Professors like Gary Anderson, Terry Astuto, and Pedro Noguera have been just as inspiring and transformative as professors like Judyie Al-­‐Bilali and Alexander Santiago-­‐Jirau.

In this creation of intersectionality, our artists and our musicians have developed ways to reach the souls of people in ways that perhaps an educator can’t, but I assure you that we are also creating some of the most wonderful educators and administrators that will make teaching and learning available to all people in a way that will only create progress in the world.

At Steinhardt, public health practitioners have developed that understand how complex health practices are while understanding the multiplicity of ways that they intersect with other aspects of our lives; we’ve developed policy writers and researchers that are committed deeply in their fields and understand the need for a more holistic approach; we’ve seen therapists and counselors who will be able to meet us where we are in order to help us be our best selves; and we have folks here who have immersed themselves in the study of media, culture and communication, three of the very foundations of our entire world. Not only will we serve as exemplary members of our individual communities, but we will also be able to work with each other in ways that break down the silos that prevent progress.

We are moving towards change and while change may be incremental, I have no doubt that most of us will be there at each and every point along the way. We have Steinhardt to thank for that. But we also have other people here today to thank for that. We have our families, however they were created, our friends, our mentors, and our lovers. We have the identities that we carry on our backs. So, on behalf of each student here today, I say thanks to all of you. Without you we would be nothing, but now collectively, we are everything. Congratulations!